Lieberman: Jews, Arabs can never live together
In first interview to foreign press, new deputy PM tells British Telegraph Arab minority in Israel is problem which can best be resolved by separation; offers Cyprus, where Turks and Greeks live separately, as desired model for Jewish state. MK Tibi in response: 'Lieberman's words – calls for ethnic cleansing'
In his first interview to the foreign press, the newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman told the British Telegraph Sunday that the best means of achieving peace in the Middle East would be for Jews and Arabs to live apart, including those Arabs who now live inside Israel.
Israel Our Home Chairman Lieberman stated that the Arab minority in Israel was a "problem" which required separation from the Jewish state.
"We established Israel as a Jewish country," he told the Telegraph. "I want to provide an Israel that is a Jewish, Zionist country. It's about what kind of country we want to see in the future. Either it will be an (ethnically mixed) country like any other, or it will continue as a Jewish country."
Lieberman said he believes that minorities are the biggest problem in the world, and asserted that in his opinion, Israel should follow Cyprus' model of national separation: "I think separation between two nations is the best solution. Cyprus is the best model. Before 1974, the Greeks and Turks lived together and there were frictions and bloodshed and terror.
"After 1974, they constituted all Turks on one part of the island, all Greeks on the other part of the island and there is stability and security," he explained.
When the interviewer pointed out that in Cyprus thousands were forcibly driven from their homes, he replied: "Yes, but the final result was better."
Lieberman also referred to the threat posed to Israel and the world by the Iranian nuclear program, and said that the world must unite against "an axis of evil led by Iran. Iran is the biggest threat. It's a problem for the whole world, but Israel really has a bad location. We are on the front line between the clash of civilizations between the free world and the extremist Islamic world."
Tibi: Lieberman is an invader
United Arab List-Ta'al MK Ahmad Tibi said Lieberman's remarks are "calls for ethnic cleansing."
"These comments prove that the practical meaning of a Jewish State fluctuates between constitutionalized discrimination and expelling the Arab citizens. We were here long before Lieberman the immigrant, and we are the salt of the earth and he is an invader," Tibi said.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir condemned Lieberman, saying that "a democratic state in general, and a Jewish state in particular, must allow room for minorities within it, and must make every effort to make them equal partners."
The Chairman of the National Union-NRP faction MK Uri Ariel backed Lieberman's remarks: "His remarks about the threat posed by Israel's Arab to the physical existence of the state are correct and justified."